An outside wide receiver with some rank on it, finally. After a four-WR class in 2017 that's currently on track to be discussed with the best in Michigan history, Michigan picked up just late sleeper Ronnie Bell last year. While there was good reason to believe Bell was a legit prospect that he started delivering on as a freshman, following up a class of "Ronnie Bell and that's it" with "uh… we hope Quintel Kent is also Ronnie Bell?" was a collar-pulling situation.
Cornelius Johnson is not a six-foot guy who may be able to hack it on the outside. He's got legit size, legit rankings, legit offers, and is just generally legit. He's not a five star but if you could pick one position at which Michigan's class needed highly-recruited mid-to-high four star, it was flanker. Check.
|3*, NR overall
#69 WR, #4 CT
|4*, #245 overall
#36 WR, #2 CT
|4*, #185 overall
#25 WR, #1 CT
#39 WR, #2 CT
Note that Rivals does nothing with the Opening anymore and is usually very perfunctory about New England recruits. Their ranking was backed by no scouting. Neither is ESPN's, but we like it more.
[After THE JUMP: coming to play school]
Johnson has little. ESPN has nothing. Rivals has nothing except an interview with his coach from their Notre Dame site:
“If you had pinpoint one thing, he can stretch the field,” Shine stated. “He’s a deep-ball threat. He runs some really great ‘out’ routes. Better than I’ve seen in a long time. He’s really worked on his hands. He caught the ball with his body as a freshman and sophomore. As a junior, he’s really done well improving on his skills.
“He just goes after the ball. He goes up and gets the ball. We threw a lot of jump balls to him because of his athleticism. He gets after it. You watch his routes and he runs very precise routes for a junior.”
24/7 did have a fair number of takes after Johnson appeared at The Opening, where he was briefly a fave-rave who flew up 24/7's rankings. Barton Simmons:
“He’s a big kid. He’s 6-2.5, he’s physically put together, he’s long. … as fluid and natural, just on air, as any wide receiver here. He already has the speed aspect and his film checks out. …made his presence felt with the way he ran routes, his fluidity, his ball skills, his hands. He just really checks every box to me”
… strong day as a route runner … needs to continue to develop his ability to get off the line of scrimmage against jams, but once into a route he was quick out of his breaks and he was strong with his hands. His size and speed to stretch the field, or make a corner cover him on a crossing route, brings intrigue.
…flashed in a big way …speed coming out of breaks was impressive. He used his length well and his size gave smaller defensive backs trouble. There were a few plays where defensive backs were physical with him down the field and disrupted his route.
In the aftermath Johnson had a brief flirtation with Alabama, prompting Hank South (yes the 247 Bama mod is literally named South) to tell his readers they should "keep an eye on" him after "a great showing at the Opening." That was probably one of those offer-to-come-visit things Alabama and many other teams use. But FWIW.
After being "one of the top performers at The Opening Finals from start to finish" Johnson disappeared back into Connecticut and nobody said much about him afterwards. 24/7 did put together one of those scouting reports that frequently appear on their player pages post-Scout merger. This one is a bit optimistic about its ability to project the future:
Big-framed receiver with large catch radius. Has frame to carry 210 pounds and be physical off line of scrimmage. Gets off line quickly, and is good against jams. Tough to re-route. Accelerates well and has good top-end speed. Tracks ball well. Knows how to use length and size to shield defender. Big, strong hands. Willing blocker who sinks hips and drives legs. Needs to fine-tune route running and not round off cuts. Upper-body strength improvement is needed. Sometimes fights ball on intermediate and short throws. Adding flexibility will help with elusiveness and athleticism. Three-year starter at high-level Power 5 program and projects as a third-round NFL draft pick.
Johnson's composite is lower than it should be because of Rivals's absence from the one camp series he bothered with over the course of his recruitment and the general lack of respect offered New England recruits. He's a big get.
A laundry-list of high academic schools: Stanford, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Penn State, Cal, BC, Duke, UVA, Pitt. Also WVU! It may not surprise you that both of Johnson's parents went to Stanford and his mom went to Michigan medical school:
Another feather in the Maize & Blue’s cap is Johnson’s mother’s alumni status. Mom is a native Detroiter, still has family in southeast Michigan, and is a graduate of medical school in Ann Arbor. Which begs the question, does she ever put in even subtle plugs for her alma mater?
“Obviously she does,” Johnson responded laughingly. “She’s stressing, ‘Michigan. Michigan.’ She’s Go Blue.”
Johnson is Brunswick School (CT)'s first P5 recruit since two-star WR Kevin Royal signed with Virginia in 2009.
33 catches for 485 yards as a junior. I have not encountered senior stats. For context: 33 catches was enough to get named "All New England" by whatever organization does that.
FAKE 40 TIME
4.58 at an Opening Regional, which gets maybe one fake but probably none.
This does not look fair, especially the Amara Darboh catch at 1:50.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Johnson is going to be blocked next year and should redshirt. Year two is more dependent on what the NFL draft does to the Collins/DPJ/Black trio than anything Johnson can do to bust through those guys; he's likely to be the third or fourth outside WR option and pick up a dozen or so catches. In year three the door opens most of the way; Black and Martin may still be around but a loping downfield threat like Johnson should be ready to go by then and it'll be difficult for shorter guys to keep pace.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Dax Hill's re-flip and this commitment bring Michigan to 27 players, most of whom will be signed by the end of the day. Nobody else is expected to join the class today. Michigan has a spot or two left to play with. They'll probably start going after a player or two who's still out there after the dust settles. RB and DT are the most likely spots Michigan would like to shore up after the departures of Eric Gray and Aubrey Solomon.